JOHN Mousinho is ready to step up and rally the troops after a devastating week at Oxford United.

The centre back takes over the armband for tomorrow’s Sky Bet League One clash at Plymouth Argyle after Curtis Nelson was ruled out for the season with a ruptured Achilles.

United's week was further rocked yesterday when they learned winger Rob Hall will spend four months on the sidelines after damaging cartilage in his knee.

U’s boss Pep Clotet, who has recalled Malachi Napa from his loan at Hampton & Richmond Borough as cover, could not hide his disappointment.

He said: “It’s bad news for us.

“He has been troubled by it for a little while and after Saturday’s game it was swollen.

“So we booked him in for a scan and that showed damage to the cartilage so he will have an operation to correct that.”

With United also on a six-match winless run, it is a challenging time to inherit the role, but Mousinho is relishing the responsibility.

He said: “It’s not great circumstances to take over and everyone feels for Curtis and Rob.

“But nothing really changes. I’d like to think I will behave exactly the same as I have been and try to lead as much as possible – I think that should apply to all the lads.

“You should behave the same whether you have the armband or not, that’s what you owe the team.”

Mousinho, who called a team meeting yesterday, added: “We’re not going to be able to immediately replace them (the injured players), but part of the test of the strength of the squad is how we react.

“Players who are coming in from the sidelines, convinced they should be getting games, now have a chance to prove themselves in the league.

“It’s pretty much a baptism of fire at Plymouth, which is a tough place to play after a couple of bad results in the league and poor results in the cup.

“So it’s a massive time and it’s literally a case of rallying troops, but I think that would have happened regardless of the results and injuries.

“It’s a great game to play in and we can have a siege mentality and really get ourselves going.”

Mousinho captained Burton Albion to back-to-back promotions, but was released by the Brewers in August.

The 31-year-old was handed the U’s armband when Nelson was stretchered off against Northampton last weekend.

And Clotet sought advice from Cobblers boss Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink, who managed Burton in 2014-15, to see if Mousinho would be a good fit to take over as skipper.

He said: “I used a few minutes after the game on Saturday to talk about it with Jimmy.

“I got an excellent report and I have a lot of confidence in him.

“I think he can deliver, not only leadership but experience, and will help us through the difficult time that we are having at the moment.”